5e–>OD&D riff: Hit Dice as non-magical healing
Driving home from work today, I got to thinking about one of the elements of 5e that I particularly like: the way PCs can strategically spend Hit Dice to regain some lost hit points. Part of this stems from my preference for cleric-free D&D (and cleric-free FRP gaming in general), and partly because there is no regular cleric in my lunchtime 5e game, as our cleric player has been frequently absent due to schedule conflict.
My drive-time thoughts today were about possible ways I could tweak that rule for OD&D — still my favorite incarnation of the game — and I think I’ve hit upon a potential house rule that’s worth testing next time I run a game with the little brown books:
During a short rest (of minimum one uninterrupted hour), Player characters and monsters may spend Hit Dice in order to recover an appropriate number of hit points (i.e. spend 2 Hit Dice, regain 2d6 HP) up to the character’s normal maximum. Hit Dice thus spent may not be recovered until the character has completed a long rest (of minimum six uninterrupted hours.) Furthermore, a character who thusly spends Hit Dice attacks at his or her current Hit Dice until the spent HD are recovered. Example: Borg, a 4th level Fighting-Man, is badly wounded in a fight. The party takes a short rest, during which time Borg’s player decides to spend 2 HD (and recovers 2d6 HP.) Until Borg can complete a long rest, he makes all his attacks as a 2nd level fighter.
I think it’s kind of cool in that it offers another resource to manage and additional risk to weigh. If I’m badly wounded, and the party isn’t close to the dungeon exit, is it worth burning these Hit Dice to give me some extra hit points in case we run into something unexpected? Hard to say for sure though without testing it out in play. Unfortunately, HD are no longer tied to combat the way they used to be, so I can’t try out this house rule as is in my 5e game.